On May 4, at approximately 2:00 a.m. in the morning, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) broke up a house party attended primarily by African-American and Latino students from the University of Southern California (USC). LAPD is now facing serious accusations of racial profiling from attendees who may have some credibility.
Approximately 80 cops in riot gear arrived at the party. Furthermore, a helicopter hovered above and shined lights into the home. LAPD officials say the cops were responding to noise complaints from neighbors. Ironically, the helicopter and officers contributed significantly to noise pollution and resulted in further complaints from neighbors.
USC senior Nate Howard hosted the party celebrating his graduation. At a protest held on campus, which more than 100 people attended, Howard said that a similar party, primarily attended by white USC students, was occurring down the street and emphasized that this party was not shut down. Furthermore, he told reporters that the party was a peaceful event registered with the campus police. He said student IDs were checked at the door and no fights broke out. Howard was supported by a number of students holding signs that read, "We are scholars, not criminals."
While I have no doubt that this incident was in part due to racial profiling, we will never know for sure the incentive and thoughts of the LA police officers involved; however, these events do shed light on the issue of racial profiling and similar occurrences on other campuses throughout the United States.
Furthermore, 3 things strike me as absurd about the events that occurred just off of USC’s campus. First, LAPD caused quite a ruckus in response to noise complaints, an irony that is comical in its incompetence.
Second, a party across the street was treated quite differently. Not one attendee was arrested, despite the similar nature of the party. This issue was addressed during a panel of LAPD officers, USC campus police, and city and university officials. The host of a neighboring party attended by primarily white students told the panel, "My house was treated with respect and the only difference between the two parties was that racial component. And if you're going to deny that, then I'm sorry, I'm just not going to stand for it."
It was testimony by white students that compelled LAPD to continue investigation into the incident. "How many people — just by a show of hands — think this incident was based on race?" asked Commander Bill Scott of LAPD's South Bureau. Virtually every hand in the auditorium went up. "We take that seriously and that really matters to us," Scott said. "And the hands that I saw were white hands, black hands, brown hands, everybody in the room. So that means something to us."
Lastly, USC is located in Watts, a district in South Los Angeles known for gang and drug-related violence. So I have to ask: doesn’t LAPD have better things to do than break up college graduation parties? Yes. Undoubtedly yes. It seems to me that LAPD needs to sort out their priorities.